The City of L.A. Has Millions to Help Bail Out Renters, but Demand Is Going to Be Sky High

A new program that will offer emergency rent subsidies for some at-risk residents starts accepting applications July 13

An estimated 50,000 households in Los Angeles are about to get a little bit of rent relief. The Emergency Renters Assistance Program will provide subsidies of up to a total of $2,000 to help at-risk Angelenos stay in their homes. Most of the money for the program— described as the largest pandemic rent assistance program attempted anywhere in the country—will come from federal CARES Act funds.

“Allocating this funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act will help stabilize thousands of families in Los Angeles,” Councilman Mitch O’Farrell told the Daily News. “The recovery will be hard enough without people having to worry about how to stay housed and put food on the table while meeting their financial obligations.”

To qualify for the subsidies, a tenant must have already met the HUD standard of “low to moderate income” before the pandemic began, and now also be financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. That household income standard ranges from $58,450 for one person living alone to $110,250 for a family of eight. Residents are eligible for the program regardless of immigration status.

Rent assistance subsidies of up to $1,000 per month, and $2,000 in total, will be paid directly to landlords. If a landlord accepts the funds, they commit to not charge interest or late fees on rent that was owed by the tenant, to not evict the tenant for six months after whenever the local emergency order ultimately expires, and to not impose a rent increase for a year after the order expires.

But the application process may present some challenges. The application will be open for only five days, from 8 a.m. on July 13 until 11:59 p.m. on July 17. It’s expected that there will be many more applications than can be funded through the program, so applications will be drawn at random from the pool. Those who are not selected will be placed on a waiting list should more money become available.

That allocation system brings to mind the recent rocky launch of the Angeleno Cards, where demand overwhelmed available supply immediately, and the struggles many encountered to use California’s online unemployment application system.

Even a $103 million program will only be able to help a small fraction of L.A. residents in dire economic need as the pandemic and economic crisis continue.

“We know people throughout the city of Los Angeles need assistance, particularly our working poor and disenfranchised communities, who are hit hardest by both the health and economic impacts of COVID-19,” Council President Nury Martinez told the Daily News. “Demand will be high and serve as a reminder that the federal government must offer billions more in housing assistance if we are going to help all who need assistance to remain in their homes during and after this pandemic.”

RELATED: L.A. City Councilmembers Want to Stop Coronavirus-Related Evictions Before They Start

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